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BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF CITY OF CHICAGO

December 6, 1974

DUSHARN L. BROWN, BY ARAINA BROWN, HIS PARENT AND NEXT FRIEND, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, A BODY POLITIC AND CORPORATE AND AN AGENCY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS; AND JAMES F. REDMOND, GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS FOR THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLAREN, District Judge.

        MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I.

Introduction

This is a class action civil rights claim against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago (Board) and its general superintendent, James F. Redmond (Redmond) contending that the Board arbitrarily allocates the city's educational funds in a manner which systematically discriminates against non-Caucasian and poor children. Plaintiffs sue individually and on behalf of all students attending those Chicago public elementary schools for which the defendants allocate and spend a less than equal per-pupil share of state and local funds; plaintiffs seek to represent two subclasses: (1) the sub-class of all non-Caucasian students and (2) the sub-class of all students from families of low or moderate income or dependent economic status.

This opinion shall constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law as provided by F.R.Civ.P. 52(a).

The case presented to the Court by all parties is largely composed of the Board's own statistical data which plaintiffs contend establishes a prima facie case of racial and economic discrimination. Defendants argue that the differentials in per-pupil expenditures revealed in this data are not significantly correlated to the racial or economic composition of individual schools. Instead, defendants argue that spending differentials result from natural causes such as school size, participation in experimental programs, and demographic make-up of an individual school. Other evidence in this case includes the depositions of Dr. Redmond and other agents of the Board, and the depositions of plaintiffs' and defendants' independent educational experts. Plaintiffs attempt to draw from this testimonial evidence proof that the level of per-pupil expenditures has a substantial impact on the quality of the education offered students and on the level of student achievement. None of the parties has chosen to present in-court testimonial evidence.

II.

Statements of Facts

A.  Background of Racial and Economic Demographics in the
    Chicago Public Elementary Schools

The City of Chicago, like most large American urban centers, has racially segregated residential housing patterns. These housing patterns are significant in the instant action because the defendants here have adopted the neighborhood school concept. Thus an overwhelming majority of the public elementary schools in the City of Chicago have student body memberships comprised of 90% or more of one racial group:

    (i) In the 1969-70 school year, of the 416
  elementary schools, 174 had student populations
  over 90% non-Caucasian, 142 had student
  populations over 90% Caucasian, and 100 had
  student populations that were "mixed," that is, no
  race accounted for more than 90%.
    (ii) In 1970-71, of the 427 elementary schools,
  198 had student populations over 90%
  non-Caucasian, 101 had student populations over
  90%

  Caucasian, and 128 had student populations that
  were "mixed."
    (iii) In 1971-72, of the 434 elementary schools,
  208 had student populations over 90%
  non-Caucasian, 94 had student populations over 90%
  Caucasian, and 132 had student populations that
  were "mixed".
    (iv) In 1972-73, of the 446 elementary schools,
  221 had student populations over 90%
  non-Caucasian, 92 had student populations over 90%
  Caucasian, and 133 had student populations that
  were "mixed".
    (v) The percentage of schools having student
  populations over 90% non-Caucasian or over 90%
  Caucasian changed in only a minor degree over the
  four-year 1969-73 period:
1969-70    1970-71 1971-72 1972-73
Over 90% non-
Caucasian schools       41.8%     46.4%       47.9%     49.6%
Over 90% Caucasian
schools                 34.1%     23.7%       21.7%     20.6%
"Mixed" schools         24.0%     30.0%       30.4%     29.8%
Schools over 90%
non-Caucasian or
over 90% Caucasian      76.0%     70.0%       69.6%     70.2%

Defendants correctly argue that no evidence is present in this record of any act by the Board which directly caused segregated housing patterns. Moreover, plaintiffs do not argue here that the neighborhood school concept, where a de jure policy of segregation has not existed, is constitutionally infirm. Therefore, evidence that one racial group comprises more than 90% of the student membership in a given school does not, standing alone, establish discrimination on the basis of race. However, this evidence of the pattern of racial composition of Chicago elementary schools is relevant to the instant action because the Board's funding allocation policies do not operate in a vacuum; in establishing funding policies the Board must recognize that a racially neutral policy may result in an invidiously discriminatory result because of the established racial attendance patterns in the school system.

Moreover, many neighborhoods in the City of Chicago are almost exclusively comprised of low or moderate income families or families of dependent economic status; similarly, many city neighborhoods are almost exclusively comprised of middle or upper income families. Public elementary school students, with few exceptions, are required by defendants' districting and pupil assignment policies to attend schools in the neighborhoods where they reside. Plaintiffs maintain that as a consequence, children from lower income families generally are required by defendants' policies to attend schools located in poorer neighborhoods, while children from higher income families attend schools in wealthier neighborhoods. Defendants implicitly accept this conclusion. They admit that eligibility for funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)*fn1 can serve as an indicator of low economic status. Title I schools appear to be clustered in neighborhoods with relatively low socio-economic status [SES]. Since most elementary students attend school in the neighborhoods in which they reside, it is a logical inference that schools located in poor neighborhoods will have student populations largely composed of children from poorer families.

B.  Variations in Per-Pupil Staffing Expenditures

With this background data established, we turn now to plaintiffs' central factual contention that the Board's funding policies cause invidious racial and economic discrimination in per-pupil staffing expenditures. Plaintiffs' cause on this point is based entirely on an analysis of the Board's expenditures for the school years 1969-70 and 1970-71. Plaintiffs' expert witness, Richard A. Berk, analyzed the 1969-70 per-pupil cost for the staffing of the 416 elementary schools in the Chicago school system. His analysis showed that the 174 schools with more than a 90% black student body received an average of $391 per pupil, while the 142 schools with more than 90% white membership received an average of $423 per pupil. The remaining 100 "mixed" schools received an average of $406 per pupil. Plaintiffs' expert also found that the same sort of systematic allocation of resources was apparent when schools were measured on the ...


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